TARPON SPRINGS — When East Lake's Alyssa Bache and Pinellas Park's Sara Nevins last faced off, the game went 17 innings and the Eagles junior stated afterward that she could pitch 17 more innings.
Friday at East Lake, it looked like she just might have to.
Then in a flash, Sydney Dinelli's bat drove one of Nevins' seventh-inning pitches into the rightfield gap, and just like that, it was over:
East Lake 1, Pinellas Park 0.
The victory was a milestone for the Eagles (25-2) and their star pitcher. It's the first time either has gotten past the region semis.
In seven previous region playoff tries, the Eagles never won more than one postseason game. And for Bache, the victory was her first in a region semifinal, having lost her two previous years, when she was at Countryside, to Durant (2008) and Riverview (2009).
"Finally," Bache said, who will get a chance to conquer her Hillsborough County hex when the Eagles host Sickles on Tuesday.
Dinelli's one-out hit scored Hayley Davis, who reached second on a hit that rightfielder Courtney Lenardo made a diving try on.
"Hayley getting to second was a huge thing," Dinelli said. "I have been in a slump for a month now, but I actually felt pretty good the whole game."
To that point, Nevins and Bache had predictably delivered a pitching duel. Nevins allowed just one hit until Davis and Dinelli went back to back, striking out seven. Bache was her equal. Returning from a forearm injury that still bothers her, she allowed four hits but struck out 11 Patriots (23-5).
"I would say in seven innings, she threw probably two pitches that didn't go where they were supposed to," Eagles coach Mike Estes said. "She was awesome."